on the occasion of www.chaletmomma.com six month anniversary i'm taking this opportunity to revisit an interview i did with my dear friend Karen Payne of Perth, AU last summer - it was originally published on her site the Little Design Blog. this piece - seeing it out there in the universe gave me such a lift when i was in the throws of designing the site and creating content and not sure when it would see the light of day!
thanks again Karen! you're the best!!! xx
[Sha-ley] | noun
A wooden house or cottage with overhanging eaves typically found in the Swiss Alps.
In 2003 when Meryl Gallagher King and her husband Steven were house hunting in their native New Jersey, the house they were trying to buy fell through. Despite their disappointment at the time, Meryl recollects being out for a drive one day shortly after with a friend, when they stumbled across a ‘For Sale’ sign that soon turned disappointment into a sense of kismet. “I couldn't believe it”, recalls Meryl “a house in my old neighborhood. I was thrilled!”
When Meryl talks about ‘the chalet’ as the home they ended up buying is affectionately known, it is with a charming mix of nostalgia and pride. Growing up just a few blocks away, Meryl remembers fondly how she spent her childhood passing by on her bike often and stopping for candy on Halloween. Back then, the chalet was painted red and was affectionately called ‘The Schoolhouse’ by Meryl and her friends, because of the center chimney, which looked like an old-fashioned bell tower.
Meryl and her husband Steven are now the proud owners of the 1924 chalet, which she describes as the “heart and soul” of their family.
The beautiful 1924 home, is nestled in the Cedars; a leafy quiet part of town by the park, full of windy streets. Built by Austrian craftsmen, the home fits in well with the unique architecture of the area, all built between 1892 and 1952.
The chalet is not overly large for the area, at roughly 1400 square feet (approximately 427m2). The three bedroom home is spread over two floors, a basement and an attic. The property slopes down in the rear and the basement is actually a walk-out with French doors which open out to a patio. Despite initially moving house to gain more space, the Kings' forgave the property for only having one bathroom, because it spoke to them in so many other ways – “what was I thinking?!?”, jokes Meryl. But with features such as the gallery porches with hand cut railings that are mirrored inside; the quirky stairwell and five sets of French doors throughout, “we can do with only one bathroom, right?”, laughs Meryl.
One of the features Meryl loves most is the living room, which is completely open to the dining room, “I love that I get to live in an open-concept house that is original. We have what I have jokingly coined as a 'Step-Saver Kitchen'. If you stand in the middle of the room you can reach out and touch everything without taking a step!” Adding to the homey feel, is the fireplace, surrounded by beautiful carving, which is in the center of the house.
Not everyone shares Meryl’s love of her home, says Meryl as she recounts a funny story. “ I found out a gal I knew through business had toured the chalet and hated it! She thought it weird and small. Cue the awkward pause when I replied ‘well Steven & I bought it!’ “ But true to her happy-go-lucky nature, Meryl didn’t take offense to the comment at all, “I feel blessed every day to be able to call this jewel home.”
The King family went about moving in and quickly realized the furnishings and color choices from their previous house just wouldn’t work. The chalet demanded a more casual feel.
“Look at this image from our first house… Wow! Were we majorly “Adulting” or what?!?”
The Kings’ first purchase for their new home was their set of big, comfy leather chairs and from there they replaced the dining room furniture, the living room sofa and the coffee table. Next, they started painting over the dark trim and doors on the first floor.“ The chalet can be dark with its wide, overhanging roofline. I found the most perfect shade of beige with a lovely warm tone for the first floor by Benjamin Moore: Putnam Ivory. The final touch was carpeting; out went the dark Orientals to be replaced by a lighter pattern.”
All of these changes took about eight years, timed well to welcome the arrival of their son, Liam. Meryl loves this image from Liam’s first birthday in 2012, “You can see the side gallery with its hand cut railings. Liam loves telling everyone he lives in the chalet.”
Meryl, Steven and Liam are the proud owners of the 1924 chalet.
The chalet is a treasure trove of the “lovely bits” that Meryl has carefully collected and curated, her entire life. The home is filled with curiosities - teacups, jars, bottles, tins, baskets, rulers, photographs, lamps, books, art and so, so much more. Meryl adds her favorite hashtag on Instagram is the one she created #saynotoemptywalls, which also serves as a personal decorating philosophy!
Meryl feels blessed to share her life and enthusiasm for collecting with her husband Steven, whom she met when he was dragged to a party. They were married the following year and now their son Liam is happy to join them on their treasure hunting trips. It seems Liam is a collector too, “just look at the bookshelves Steven built for him.”
The family also share their home with Fred, who perfectly sums up the relaxed, welcoming and comfortable feel of the home, far better than words ever could. fred knows how to enjoy the chalet life.
To follow Meryl and to be among the first to hear an upcoming announcement about the chalet, visit @chaletmomma on Instagram . Make sure you tell her Karen sent you!
to follow Karen please visit her Instagram page @all_that_is_home
i am so thankful for you my loyal readers.
a million thank yous! xoxo
til next time.